Out of Egypt
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the products of the
Author’s imagination or are used fictitiously.
Manufactured in the United States of America
When Israel went out of Egypt, the house of Jacob
From a people of strange language;
Judah was his sanctuary, and Israel his dominion.
The sea saw it, and fled: Jordan was driven back.
The mountains skipped like rams,
And the little hills like lambs.
What ailed thee, O thou sea, that thou fleddest?
Thou Jordan, that thou wast driven back?
Ye mountains, that ye skipped like rams;
And ye little hills, like lambs?
Tremble, thou earth, at the presence of the Lord,
At the presence of the God of Jacob;
Which turned the rock into a standing water,
The flint into a fountain of waters.
– Psalm 114. King James Version
I WAS SEVEN YEARS OLD. What do you know when you’re seven years old? All
My life, or so I thought, we’d been in the city of Alexandria, in the Street of the
Carpenters, with the other Galileans, and sooner or later we were going home.
Late afternoon. We were playing, my gang against his, and when he ran at me
Again, bully that he was, bigger than me, and catching me off balance, I felt the
Power go out of me as I shouted: “You’ll never get where you’re going.”
He fell down white in the sandy earth, and they all crowded around him. The
Sun was hot and my chest was heaving as I looked at him. He was so limp.
In the snap of two fingers everyone drew back. It seemed the whole street went
Quiet except for the carpenters’ hammers. I’d never heard such a quiet.
“He’s dead!” Little Joses said. And then they all took it up. “He’s dead, he’s
Dead, he’s dead.”
I knew it was true. He was a bundle of arms and legs in the beaten dust.
And I was empty. The power had taken everything with it, all gone.
His mother came out of the house, and her scream went
Up the walls into a howl. From everywhere the women came running.
My mother lifted me off my feet. She carried me down the street and through
The courtyard and into the dark of our house. All my cousins crowded in with
Us, and James, my big brother, pulled the curtain shut. He turned his back on
The light. He said:
“Jesus did it. He killed him.” He was afraid.
“Don’t you say such a thing!” said my mother. She clutched me so close to her,
I could scarcely breathe.
Big Joseph woke up.
Now Big Joseph was my father, because he was married to my mother, but I’d
Never called him Father. I’d been taught to call him Joseph. I didn’t know why.
He’d been asleep on the mat. We’d worked all day on a job in Philo’s house,
And he and the rest of the men had lain down in the heat of the afternoon to
Sleep. He climbed to his feet.
“What’s that shouting outside?” he asked. “What’s happened?”
He looked to James. James was his eldest son. James was the son of a wife who
Had died before Joseph married my mother.
James said it again.
“Jesus killed Eleazer. Jesus cursed him and he fell down dead.”
Joseph stared at me, his face still blank from sleep. There was more and more
Shouting in the street. He rose to his feet, and ran his hands back through his
Thick curly hair.
My little cousins were slipping through the door one by one and crowding
My mother was trembling. “He couldn’t have done it,” she said. “He wouldn’t
Do such a thing.”
“I saw it,” said James. “I saw it when he made the sparrows out of clay on the